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I’m playing Halo Infinite. Or, at least, I’m trying to. My Xbox is broken and keeps crashing, but while I wait for the replacement to arrive, I’m playing as much Infinite as I can manage. And what I’ve found so far is that this game feels like a strong foundation for a new kind of Halo that still remains true to what the series always was. And while it is obviously now an open-world adventure, it’s one that feels closer to the latest Zelda than to Far Cry — and that’s a good thing.
At the same time, this is a Halo where Master Chief can capture bases. So it’s not entirely unlike Far Cry. But the reason I keep getting Breath of the Wild vibes is due to two key factors. For one, Halo’s developers have always treated it as a sandbox. And two, as Breath of the Wild is to The Legend of Zelda so Halo Infinite is to Halo: Combat Evolved.
When it comes to that first point, I’m happy to report that the campaign is still a Halo-ass Halo game. But where the multiplayer that launched earlier this week is very much a familiar Halo throwback, the campaign builds something new on top of Halo’s gameplay.
Halo’s sandbox physics and combat encounters are still the core of the fun in the campaign. But now those scenarios act as bombastic punctuation to a satisfying exploration phase. This mixes up the pacing and keeps things fresh. And now when you stumble across a new cluster of enemies, it’s thrilling.
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So where Breath of the Wild relied on its chemistry system and physics interactions to fuel its sandbox gameplay, Halo is staying with what it already had.
343 Industries has laid strong groundwork for Halo’s future
I’m still early in the game. I haven’t played past what I’m allowed to talk about for this preview. That means I cannot break embargo and go to Xbox jail, but it also means that I don’t know if 343 ends up delivering on the potential for this game. But I’m hopeful that it does.
Even if the game doesn’t nail every idea in the end, though, the underlying concept is strong. It does feel like what I always imagined Halo was before I ever played the original. Seeing it in magazines in 1999 and 2000, I figured Combat Evolved was this big explorable world, and this game delivers on those assumptions.
To me, this is reminiscent of the way that Breath of the Wild delivered on the promises of the original The Legend of Zelda. And again, Infinite feels a lot like a massive Zelda game. It even has dungeon-like structures.
Maybe these early impressions will fall apart as I get further in the game, but for not, I’m excited. I cannot wait for my new Xbox to get here so I can play through this game. It’s all I want to do right now. And I hope to bring you my final thoughts before Halo Infinite launches December 8.